I LOVE my secondary characters. Sometimes so much, I fear they're going to steal the show, so to speak. But they do have a role.
Remember the movie A Knight's tale?? Just when things look the bleakest for Will, a secondary character reveals himself and all is changed...
Now, at first, while I loved the revelation, I did worry about the whole Deus Ex Machina thing, but it turns out that this character only made it possible for Will to face down his foe, he didn't SOLVE the problem for him.
So, in the end, the writer(s) used this secondary character perfectly - building up mystery around him, having him step forward when necessary, but never allowing him to take over and steal the hero's thunder.
Do you use movies to help you with characterization and other story elements?
Currently Reading: Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland
Link of the Day: Sun Court Bibliography